WTA Finals, Singapore Day 6 Preview: Angelique Kerber v Lucie Safarova

SafarovaThe final group match at the 2015 WTA Finals in Singapore will feature the number six seed, Angelique Kerber up against the number eight seed, Lucie Safarova. For Lucie, her chances of qualifying are very slim at best but Angie still has a fair shot of reaching the semi-finals. The permutations for the white group are as follows and they could get confusing…

For Lucie to have a chance of qualifying, she must win in straight sets and then rely on Muguruza defeating Kvitova in straight sets. It would then come down to the % of games won. For Kerber, a win won’t guarantee her place in the semi-finals. If Kvitova beats Muguruza in straight sets, Kerber’s chances are diminished. However, if Kerber wins and Kvitova doesn’t, her chances of qualifying for the semi-finals look very promising.

Safarova suffered her seventh consecutive loss to Petra Kvitova on Wednesday, losing out, 7-5 7-5 in an uneventful match. My one tennis wish would be for no more Lucie v Petra matches… perleasseeeee! Considering they have pretty similar games and many of the sets they’ve played have been tight, the head-to-head is a real head scratcher. Lucie is in a bit of a rut when it comes to playing Petra. There was little to call between the two players in terms of their play but Kvitova just played the big points better.

In the first set, Kvitova saved a break point at 5-5 *30-40. In the next game, Safarova produced errors on three game points with Kvitova snapping up the set on a forehand winner. Safarova made a wonderful start to the second set, securing back-to-back breaks with some aggressive returning. However, the joy was shortlived with Kvitova winning four games on the trot. Once again, Safarova lost her serve at *5-6 with a string of groundstrokes just long. A deep return from Kvitova forced Safarova into the net to conclude the contest. It’s awesome just to see Lucie competing in Singapore after a rough couple of months and she still has the Fed Cup final to come in a few weeks.

In another head-to-head that is becoming increasingly one-sided, Garbiñe Muguruza secured a fourth consecutive victory over Kerber, 6-4 6-4. It was another entertaining clash between the pair in what is fast becoming one of my favourite WTA match-ups. Kerber didn’t play a bad match but Muguruza was awesome. After coming from an early break down, Kerber was looking good and having joyyy with the forehand down-the-line. I liked Kerber’s body language and she looked really purposeful. She had a slight opening up 4-3 40-40 but couldn’t force a break point. Kerber then surrendered her serve at 4-4 and although she had a break point when Muguruza served for the set, the German player missed three consecutive returns to hand Muguruza the set.

Kerber was having to battle hard in all of her service games in the second set and was making a few too many errors. Kerber recovered an early break, like the first set, and seemed to get fired up after the umpire, Marija Cicak made an error with the score in the game at 4-2, prematurely awarding Muguruza the game. Kerber produced some astounding defence in the game at 4-4, being knocked off balance by a Muguruza return and her racquet hitting the floor… but somehow she was still able to win the point. Kerber had a game point serving at 4-4 *40-30 but Muguruza was just too sharp, converting a volley, hitting a crushing forehand down-the-line and then asking too much of Kerber with a pass. Unlike their match in Wuhan earlier this month, Muguruza closed it out in convincing style to 15.

Safarova and Kerber have played just twice before on the WTA tour and will play for the third time indoors; Kerber won their first encounter back in 2012 in the now deceased Paris indoors tournament, 6-2 7-6(3). Safarova levelled up the head-to-head last year in the Fed Cup final, 6-4 6-4. I’d fancy Safarova to win her first set of the tournament in this one. However, i’d still go for Kerber to win this match. It took a high quality performance from Muguruza to defeat the German player and while improving match-by-match, Safarova’s level, particularly on serve, isn’t quite there yet to suggest she can live with Kerber.

15 thoughts on “WTA Finals, Singapore Day 6 Preview: Angelique Kerber v Lucie Safarova

  1. Safarova will win this one and Kvitova will beat Muguruza. Kerber will have problems to deal with Safarova’s forehand.

    Muguruza will choke when she plays big bitters like Kvitova who can hits the balls to both corners but fingers crossed and hope Petra twins sister Shitra is off. Come on Czech powers.

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    • It’s a shame one has to consider issues like choking with two terrific baseline hitters. I just feel Kvitova will choke first. Muguruza might be nervous dealing with her lefty play especially if Petra is playing a quick game( has to Keep Garbine guessing). Of the two, I think Muguruza is the ‘punisher’ and she will oblige if Kvitova goes ‘cuckoo’. Naturally, being friends, I expect Lucie to give a Petra a hand if she can. Either way, I wouldn’t want to come second in this group for obvious reasons.

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      • Muguruza did choke but Kvitova just choked more. Seeing many players losing their matches because of choking is not new. It is shame that you don’t see it. Kvitova surely can beat Muguruza if they play on other surface. Will see. Nevertheless, I was right. Lucie took Kerber out.

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      • Yes, it was a sloppy match as well. Garbine also looked tired. Disappointing. At this rate, Maria is sitting pretty. Petra owes Lucie some of her semi final paycheck, a dinner or such should be in order.

        Now I feel Radwanksa has a better chance against Muguruza. Playing doubles is not helping her.

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  2. I feel like Lucie could take this one. She’s steadily gaining match experience. She has almost nothing to lose here and goes in as the underdog.

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    • I agree that could go in Lucie’s favour as there will be no pressure. I’d still give Angie the edge though as she has been very solid during the Asian Swing.

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    • Petra-Maria would be fun but personally, i’d prefer Angie-Maria. Their last two matches, Wimbledon last year and Stuttgart earlier this year, were both tremendous. Angie won both matches in three sets and it would be a tough match-up for Maria.

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      • Agree, James! I’d love to see Angie challenge *this* version of Maria again. – both are tough competitors and I feel like this could be a stand out match IF it happens. However, like Andrew, I feel like Lucie could take this one. Depends on how Kvitova and Garbi played and how nervous Angie might be (Lucie on the other hand really has nothing to lose!!).

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      • I hope you guys are right. Stuttgart for me was stupendous guts from Kerber cause it was Maria’s precious tournament. But…although Maria doesn’t hold petty grudges the woman never forgets how you last beat her. You will agree she will have it at the back of her mind. Kerber better not show any signs of tiredness or Maria will begin to squeeze.

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